Activity by pscotti
A diagnosis of stage IV melanoma can be a frightening prospect, with surgery and chemotherapy often an integral part of the treatment regimen. But Frank Moseley, a Jacksonville, Florida, native with an advanced melanoma diagnosis, was eager to do whatever it takes, even going beyond the norm, to give him the best chance of recovery.
So when Frank agreed to become the first participant in a clinical trial at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus and be injected with a form of the herpes virus to treat his melanoma, it was no surprise that he was confident it would work.Â [...]
Nobody knows better than Jon Jantomaso how precious every breath can be. The 49-year-old realtor from Seminole, Florida, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 2 months of age, and for the first 12 years of his life slept in a mist filled tent to help him breath and clear the mucus from his lungs. He has been in some form of physical therapy his entire life battling his disease.Â [...]
Receiving a donor kidney from an anonymous deceased donor is a gift of life to anyone in need of a transplant.Â Receiving an organ donation from a living family member is extra special, when you consider the risks and sacrifices associated with making that choice.
Tammy Stelly, a 46-year-old retired postal worker from Middleburg, Florida, experienced that special gift when her brother-in-law was found to be a compatible match and became her living kidney donor.
â€śI was overwhelmed that he offered to be tested as a possible match,â€ť says Tammy. â€śI never imagined that we might actually be a compatible match.â€ť
Tammy isnâ€™t the first member of her family to have kidney disease, nor was she the first to receive a kidney transplant from a living donor who also is a family member. One of her relatives received a kidney from his daughter many years ago, and lived another 17 years before passing away due to unrelated causes.Â [...]
If youâ€™re diagnosed with a serious illness, itÂ can beÂ easy to get down and wonder why this is happening to you and how will it affectÂ your future goals and dreams. For 57-year-old Jim McGarry of Fruit Cove, Florida, a diagnosis of end-stage renal diseaseÂ that has required him to go on dialysis three days a week while he awaits a donor kidney hasnâ€™t gotten him down. If anything, itâ€™s given him the motivation to push himself to set and achieve new life goals.
â€śFinding out I had kidney disease in 2012, after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 10Â years earlier, was a wake-up call for me about how I was living my life,â€ť says Jim. â€śI used to travel a lot, didnâ€™t eat right, and didnâ€™t get enough exercise, but that all changed once I realized I needed to deal with my health issues. Then I started to make some much-needed changes to regain my health and re-evaluate the priorities in my life.â€ť
Heâ€™s a former Green Beret who served in Somalia. Heâ€™s a record-holdingÂ skydiver with several thousand jumps under his belt since he began leaping out of airplanes at age 18. And heâ€™s a liver transplant recipient, who affectionately refers to his transplanted organ as â€śSam.â€ť
Kim Dobson, 63, of Oveido, Florida, is the definition of someone who lives life to the fullest. He not only participates in national and international skydiving competitions, but also scuba dives, plays golf, and enjoys shooting sports. With both a sports and military background, he was active, fit and the picture of health. But that all changed in 1994, after knee surgery and after undergoing a series of tests for back pain. Told he had elevated liver enzymes, KimÂ was eventually diagnosed with type 3 hepatitis C. Surprised but confident he could beat his disease and resume his active lifestyle, he went through three cycles/47 weeks of interferon treatments at a hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.
When 53-year-old Donald Jones of Ponte Vedra, Florida, found out he had lung cancer, the former smoker accepted it as a challenge that he was prepared to fight and win. Little did he know the other serious health issues that lay ahead, which would create serious new challenges for him over the next year.
An avid golfer and hiker, DonaldÂ could tell something wasnâ€™t right with his breathing after a hiking trip to the Smoky Mountains in 2013. A visit to his physician resulted in tests that showed a spot on his lung. It was cancer. He called Mayo ClinicÂ for an appointment with a pulmonologist. There,Â he was told heâ€™d need surgery to remove the lung tumor. For about three months after the surgery, everything seemed fine, and heÂ was fortunate not to require additional radiation or chemotherapy to prevent recurrence of his cancer.
What came next began a series of medical events that would threaten even the most optimistic patientâ€™s resolve. [...]
For most organ transplant recipients, receiving the â€śgift of lifeâ€ť is a one-time experience. But for Nellie Betancourt, battling the hepatitis C virus that had been in hiding in her body for years required another â€śsecond chance at life,â€ť thanks to a second generous donor and a new generation of anti-viral drugs.
Betancourt, a 56-year-old mother of two and grandmother of seven from Puerto Rico, was first diagnosed with elevated liver enzymes during a routine exam in 1995. Further testing revealed a positive result for the hepatitis C virus, which resulted in several rounds of standard anti-viral drug treatments over the next several years, none of which were successful in effectively managing her disease. This began a 20-year battle with hepatitis C that was to eventually include two liver transplants performed at Mayo Clinicâ€™s Florida campus.
â€śBy 2002, I was told that my liver enzymes were rapidly increasing, and that Iâ€™d eventually need a liver transplant or face liver failure,â€ť says Betancourt. â€śI was only 42 years old at the time.â€ť [...]
When 69-year-old allergist and rheumatologist Mike Mass. M.D., was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, he quickly realized that being the patient and trusting the advice of a fellow physician with expertise in a disease outside of his realm of expertiseÂ would be a challenge.
â€śIâ€™ve always advocated open communications with my patients about their treatment options, as itâ€™s important for the physician and patient to be on the same page,â€ť saysÂ Dr. Mass. â€śAlthough Iâ€™m not a cancer expert, I know enough about the disease to ask lots of questions of my own oncologist on the best treatment options available. It was hard balancing the need to express my opinions without impeding my physicianâ€™s own expert medical judgment.â€ť
Dr. Mass was in private practice in the Jacksonville, Florida,Â area for more thanÂ 30 years before going part-time and joining an allergy group practice in 2008. Thatâ€™s where he worked until his diagnosis in 2013, when he finally decided to retire from practicing medicine. He had known he was at a greater risk for contracting multiple myeloma for many years because of a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significanceÂ , or MGUS, whichÂ he was diagnosed with decades ago. MGUS is a condition in which an abnormal protein (M protein) is found in the blood. ThatÂ increases the risk of developing multiple myeloma at some point in the patientâ€™s life. Dr. Mass had no symptoms but found out several years ago after some blood work that his M protein levels were at the point where he now had â€śsmoldering myeloma,â€ť an early phase of this cancer condition. [...]
When aÂ doctor suddenly becomes the patient with a life-threatening illness, Mayo Clinicâ€™s commitment to high-quality medical care that puts the needs of the patient firstÂ takes on freshÂ perspective, especially as it relates to the principleÂ of compassionate care, which is aÂ hallmark of Mayo Clinic.
Such was the case when Joseph J. Tepas III, M.D., a 68-year-old pediatric surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida, learned that the wheezing and shortness of breath he was experiencing turned out to be idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a potentially life-threatening disease that occurs from unexplained scarring of the lung tissue.
In addition to doing pediatric surgery, Dr. Tepas is a practicing trauma surgeon and surgical intensivist. He is the medical director of the regionâ€™s only pediatric trauma unit, and, as a retired captain in the Navy Reserve, appreciates the critical importance of maintaining a personal commitment to health and fitness. Dr. Tepas had always lived a healthy lifestyle and, other than some occasional allergy symptoms, never had any significant health issues. But lying dormant in his otherwise healthy body was a disease that was quietly scarring and shutting his lungs down.
Some people who overcome a life-threatening illness feel motivated to give something back to those who helped make their recovery possible. Charlie Willwerth, a 61-year-old leukemia survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient from St. Augustine, Florida,Â is taking steps to help bring life-saving stems cells to others in need of a bone marrow transplant.
Two years out from his bone marrow transplant, and with his leukemia in remission, CharlieÂ recently completed courier training with Be The Match, the worldâ€™s largest bone marrow registry, to become a volunteer stem cell courier. His new â€śjobâ€ť -- transporting life-saving stem cells from a donorâ€™s location to a matching recipient --Â can take him anywhere in the world.
â€śThis is the most direct way I can help others who have helped me get a second chance at life,â€ť says Charlie. â€śIf it wasnâ€™t for my donor, I might not be here today to have the opportunity to help others with needs similar to mine.â€ť [...]
Being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a serious blood cancer, is difficult enough to accept. But being told that you also have a rare hematologic condition called amyloidosisÂ â€” a disorder that could prevent you from receiving the bone marrow transplant necessary to combat your myeloma â€”Â could put anyoneâ€™s strength to the test.
Such was the case for 67-year-old Kendall Schwindt of Sun City, Florida, a retiree who spent 26 years with Walmart and who has remained active playing golf and riding his motorcycle. After experiencing a sudden illness in MarchÂ 2013 while visiting his son, Schwindt knew something wasnâ€™t right. After visiting his family doctor, he was told he had a very high creatinine level in his blood and was sent to a local nephrologist for a kidney biopsy.
His diagnosis â€”Â multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell present in bone marrow. Plasma cells normally make proteins called antibodies to help the body fight infections. But that wasnâ€™t only devastating news Schwindt would receive. [...]
Such was the case of 67-year-old Donald Glynn of Jacksonville, Fla., an avid runner who has participated in countless marathons, half marathons and 5K races over the last 30 years. He also watched his diet, weightÂ andÂ blood pressure, and did most of the things youâ€™d expect of someone who led a healthy lifestyle. But Donald, who worked as a surgical assistant at Mayo Clinic in both Rochester and FloridaÂ before his retirement, neglected one thing â€” regular checkups. Given his familyâ€™s history of heart disease (his mother, grandmother and grandfather all had it), that turned out to be a serious mistake.
After experiencing an irregular heart rate earlier this year, DonaldÂ was shocked to learn that his arteries were severely blocked and that heâ€™d need a heart transplant. His condition was serious enough that while waiting for a new heart, heâ€™d need to have a left ventricular assist deviceÂ (LVAD) implanted to help his damaged heart function properly.
â€śNeedless to say, given my lifestyle and being a runner for so many years, I was stunned to hear about the condition of my heart,â€ť he says. â€śI thought I was doing everything right, but given my family history, it apparently wasnâ€™t enough.â€ť [...]
To 22-year-old double lung transplant recipient Curtis Higgons, being dubbed the â€śmiracle patientâ€ť by his physicians may seem somewhat overstated. But when you consider the medical challenges his doctors had to contend withÂ in preparing him for a life-saving double lung transplant, his moniker may be well deserved.
Curtis was born with cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States alone. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and can lead to life-threatening lung infections. It also obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. As the diseases progresses, lung transplantation often becomes a last treatment option.
â€śAlthough I was diagnosed with CF at six months old, it only had minor effects on my breathing until I reached my early high school years,â€ť says Curtis. â€śI was a varsity athlete in bowling and golf, but during my sophomore year of high school things began to progress, and I ended up in the hospital three times.â€ťÂ [...]
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. And for those patients whose disease has spread beyond its origination site, most treatment options have offered only modest success in controlling the disease. So when James Donaghy of Huntersville, North Carolina, entered a clinical trial at Mayo Clinic in Florida testing the effectiveness of an experimental immunotherapy drugÂ calledÂ MK-3475, he figured he had nothing to lose after several other chemotherapy treatment options failed to control his melanoma.
The 67-year old, Brooklyn-born Donaghy had his first experience with melanoma in 1994, when he found a mole on his back. As a phone company lineman for 36 years who worked outdoors on a daily basis, he figured his prolonged exposure to the sun may have put him at high risk for skin cancer. The mole was eventually diagnosed as melanoma and removed by a plastic surgeon. With regular monitoring by his doctor, all was well for many years, until he found another mole in 2011, this time on his neck, which turned out to be a recurrence of his melanoma.
After 35 years on the road as a video technician for the CBS network covering major sporting events including the Super Bowl, the Olympics, SEC football, the Masters Golf Tournament, and the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, Brooklyn native Robert Duffy was living a very active and busy life that kept him on the road about 240 days a year. At 60 years of age, his diabetes was under control, and he otherwise seemed healthy as he led a life of irregular hours, extended travel and living out of hotel rooms.
All that changed in 2011, when he became ill while covering a golf tournamentÂ in San Diego. He went to the hospital, and during his 10-day stay, Duffy was diagnosed with both liver and kidney disease. He was told he needed to have a confirmed appointment with a transplant center before he could be released from the hospital. Fortunately for Duffy, he had recently moved to Amelia Island, Fla., just a few miles down the road from Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, the only transplant center in the Jacksonville / northeast Florida area.
â€śI was told I needed both a liver and kidney transplant, and was extremely lucky to end up at Mayo Clinic, as they were the only transplant center willing to list me because of my hepatitis-C, which I contracted in my teens but has been dormant for the past 40 years,â€ť says Duffy. â€śThe fact that I had recently moved to the Jacksonville area, where a top transplant center happened to be located, was a true blessing in my case.â€ť
Duffy was put on the transplant list in March 2012 and received both organs from a deceased donor on Feb. 14, 2013, which happened to be Valentineâ€™s Day and the birthday of his beloved dog, Bella. One year later, he is doing well and has decided to devote his life to helping others.
â€śI have a new outlook on life after going through this experience,â€ť he says. â€śYour health is your wealth, and nothing else really matters if you arenâ€™t healthy and happy. Iâ€™ve decided to spend my time giving back to others in need, like my donor has done for me.â€ť
Since Duffy lost his father at the age of 12 and understands the need for a male mentor at that impressionable age, he is now involved in several community activities relating to children in the Amelia Island area.
â€śI know what it felt like losing my dad at a young age, and figured maybe I can help fill that void in some small way for other kids in the same situation,â€ť he says.
Duffy participates in the Boys and Girls Club in Amelia Island, an organization that helps young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. He is mentoring young students and helping them with their homework.
He also got involved in a program called â€śInstruments Zoo,â€ť sponsored by the Jacksonville Symphony Guild, that brings musical instruments into the public schools.Â This program is targeted to fifthÂ grade students and provides an opportunity for them to get hands-on experience trying out an instrument that they might want to eventually pursue and learn how to play.
His latest community involvement effort is with â€śTake Stock in Children,â€ť a government program targeted to low-income children of high school age. Duffy is mentoring a high school student during his entire four years of study, with the goal of helping him work hard, stay out of trouble, graduate from high school and ultimately receive a fully paid college education through the program.
â€śGiving back to the community, especially children, is important to me at this stage of my life,â€ť says Duffy. â€śIâ€™d love to go back to my job at CBS. They are like extended family and have been very good to me. But I realize that I probably couldnâ€™t handle the rigors of that job anymore, with all the travel, so Iâ€™m focusing now on staying healthy and helping others in need. Thatâ€™s the best choice for me right now.â€ť
Duffy is grateful for his second chance at life thanks to his experience at Mayo Clinic in Florida.Â â€śFrom day one everyone involved in my care at Mayo ClinicÂ has been the best and treated me with kindness and respect,â€ť says Duffy. â€śMy life was in their hands, and now that I have been given a second chance it is my turn to pay it forward.â€ť
Itâ€™s often said that twins share similar traits and have unique bonds that other siblings simply donâ€™t have. Sometimes those traits are things one would rather not share with their twin, especially when it comes to a potentially life-threatening medical condition.
Linda Foster and Brenda Santinelli, 60-year-old twin sisters from Pensacola, Fla., are active women with a love of the outdoors. Hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and other activities were well-suited to both their lifestyles. Both sisters are in long-term marriages. Both have young grandchildren. They even both have 20-plus-year careers at Walmart in their hometown. Both were former smokers who quit several years ago.
Hildred "Peggy" Lyons' first signs of liver problems occurred back in 1968, around the time of her son's birth, when her physician noticed she had elevated liver enzymes. An otherwise healthy woman who worked and also volunteered as a fitness instructor at her church teaching several classes a day to both adults and children, Lyons dismissed it as pregnancy-related and didnâ€™t gave it much thought for the next 30 years.
Unfortunately, her liver problems resurfaced right around the time she retired from her job at Proctor and Gamble in 1998. Lyons was told by her physician in her hometown of Albany, Ga., that her liver enzymes were more seriously elevated and that she should see a specialist for a diagnosis. He also told her to cut back teaching her exercise classes, something she was reluctant to do. After going to a medical center in Atlanta for an evaluation of her condition, she was left wondering what her next steps were as she grew progressively ill without any answers.
Lyons turned to her church for support, where her pastor and fellow members prayed and fasted, hoping for an answer.Â On the last day of a 30-day fast, her pastor received a call from "a total stranger" in her community who said, "The answer is in Jacksonville, Fla., at the Mayo Clinic." [...]